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A stranger saved her daughter's life, but Sunita has never been able to thank them

Sunita Kramer says a stranger at a train station changed her life after they saved her daughter.
Sunita Kramer
Sunita Kramer says a stranger at a train station changed her life after they saved her daughter.

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series from the Hidden Brain team about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.

One of the most significant people in Sunita Kramer's life is a stranger whom she has never met. She doesn't know their name or what they look like.

She encountered them the same day she almost lost her 7-year-old daughter.

It was a summer day in New Jersey, and the pair was planning to take a train to an art camp at Rutgers University, where Kramer works. She had to drag her daughter through the throng of people to get to their train.

"And I think I was anxious," she remembered. "I was wanting not to miss the train and be late."

The train pulled up, and it was time to board.

"And instead of patiently letting her get on the train first, I stepped on the train first and pulled her behind me," Kramer said.

In her rush, she had forgotten just how wide the gap between the train and the platform could be. In her haste, she didn't notice that her daughter had tripped and slipped into the gap.

"It's something that I have a lot of difficulty talking about, because my whole life flashed in front of my eyes," Kramer said.

Just as the train doors were closing, a stranger on the platform grabbed her daughter's hand and pulled her out of the gap directly on top of Kramer, knocking them both over and into the carriage.

"My daughter's shins were all scraped up and we were just lying there," Kramer remembered. "And I had no time to thank this stranger that saved my daughter's life."

"I think the hardest part was just lying there and knowing that no one on the train understood what happened to us, how close I was to losing her. And we had to just pick ourselves up and find a seat."

She found some tissues in her bag and cleaned up her daughter's legs. When they arrived at their stop they walked to the art camp where they found some bandages for the scraped-up shins.

"And then I went into my office, which was a few blocks away, and closed the door and just cried," Kramer said. "I was traumatized, but what I think about now is just who that stranger was and how they were able to react so quickly and how I wish I could thank them or even see what they looked like."

The next day, Kramer and her daughter got back on the train.

"Because I didn't want to be afraid," she said.

As they walked toward the train, Kramer searched the crowd, wondering if the stranger who saved her daughter's life was there, if they remembered her or even knew who she was.

"I wanted to be able to thank them because this unsung hero of mine changed my life," she said.

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday and Thursday. To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brigid McCarthy
Autumn Barnes